The future of Microsoft SharePoint: mobile, intelligent intranet; collaboration everywhere

The future of Microsoft SharePoint: mobile, intelligent intranet; collaboration everywhere


Microsoft has been holding its Future of SharePoint event in San Francisco today, where it outlined the roadmap for its collaboration and content management platform, as well as announcing general availability of SharePoint 2016.

The broad strokes of Microsoft’s vision for SharePoint are aligned around these “four areas of innovation”:

  • Simple and powerful file sharing and collaboration on any device.
  • The mobile and intelligent intranet, with modern team sites, publishing and business applications on your desktop and in your pocket.
  • An open and connected platform that evolves SharePoint extensibility to embrace modern web development.
  • Investments in security, privacy and compliance across Office 365.

Microsoft says that it’s working towards offering “unified access and intelligent discovery for all of your Office 365 files, making it easier than ever for you to create, share, collaborate on and manage documents from anywhere, on any device”.

This quarter, it will deliver these new capabilities as part of its vision for universal file sharing and collaboration:

  • Access to SharePoint Online document libraries and Office 365 Group files from the OneDrive mobile app.
  • Intelligent discovery of documents from both OneDrive and SharePoint.
  • Copy from OneDrive to SharePoint in the OneDrive web experience.
  • OneDrive Universal Windows Platform (UWP) application.

…and by the end of 2016, it will also offer:

  • Document analytics surfaced in OneDrive to provide insight into document usage, reach and impact.
  • Synchronization of SharePoint Online document libraries with the new OneDrive sync client.
  • Synchronization of shared folders with the new OneDrive sync client.
  • Mobile access to SharePoint document libraries in on-premises farms.
  • Move and copy files between OneDrive and SharePoint in web experiences.

A key focus of the company’s efforts will be to align SharePoint – which is used by more than 200,000 organizations around the world – with its core ‘cloud-first, mobile-first’ ethos. As noted above, empowering organizations to build ‘the mobile and intelligent intranet’ is a key priority for the company:

The intranet is the nerve center of many organizations. It provides content-centric collaborative spaces that give teams the resources they need to work together. It lets users consume and contribute news and information within their teams and across the organization. It manages knowledge and connects users to content through navigation and search. It hosts applications that support and automate business processes.

SharePoint is now making your intranet more accessible on the go, more intelligent, and more personalized, based on your activities across sites, the people you work with, the content you work on and the business processes you drive.

To that end, Microsoft has announced the launch of its new SharePoint mobile app. It will launch first on iOS, before the end of this quarter; and will come later to Android and Windows 10 Mobile, by the end of the year.

You can find out more about the mobile app in the video below:

A new SharePoint homepage is also rolling out this month in Office 365 with Office Graph integration, making it easier for users to find what they need, and to get an at-a-glance overview of core information:

This will combine with an upgraded team sites experience, as Microsoft explained:

We’re bringing the power of SharePoint team sites and Office 365 Groups together, giving every group a team site, and giving team sites the benefit of groups for simple management of membership across Office 365 services. If you are assembling a team or starting a project, you can create a team site from the SharePoint home and provision a corresponding Office 365 Group in just seconds, with integrated information classification and compliance.

You’ll find a modernized team site experience, with an engaging home page personalized by the intelligence of Office Graph. Revitalized libraries and lists enable immediate productivity with an intuitive user experience and provide rich metadata, content management and functionality that can support sophisticated business processes. We’re also introducing a new page authoring and publishing experience that allows you to create beautiful, feature-rich pages that are responsive, mobile and easy to share with your team and the organization.

There will also be integration with the newly-launched Microsoft Flow, to help users automate workflow across connected apps and SaaS tools; and with the public preview of PowerApps, “to connect, create and share business apps with team members on any device in minutes.”

Microsoft notes that “PowerApps is also being integrated directly into the modern team site, so you can create cross-platform PowerApps that utilize SharePoint lists and libraries as a data source. Deep and native integration of PowerApps and SharePoint will also drive rich new experiences with lists and libraries.”

Here’s how things are stacking up for the rest of the year:

Starting this quarter:

  • Modern document library experience (currently rolling out to First Release tenants).
  • SharePoint mobile app for iOS.
  • SharePoint home in Office 365.
  • Modern lists experience.
  • Site activity and insights on the Site Contents page.

And during calendar year 2016:

  • SharePoint mobile app for Windows and Android.
  • Integration of SharePoint sites and Office 365 Groups.
  • Simple, fast site creation.
  • Modern pages experience.
  • Team and organizational news and announcements.
  • PowerApps and Microsoft Flow integration with SharePoint.

Microsoft also announced details of its new SharePoint Framework, “a page and part model that enables fully supported client-side development, easy integration with the Microsoft Graph and support for open source tooling.”

You can find out more about that in today’s announcement, and in this more detailed post on the company’s Office Blog.